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Part of green gift-giving means recycling your giftwrap afterwards. Trouble is, many communities don't accept it, even eco-friendly varieties. Not to worry, though. If your municipal recycler says no to that mound of paper, ribbons, and bows—and lavish, Martha Stewart-style presentation isn't a must—opt for recyclable alternatives instead. Not only will you have eco-peace of mind, but you can also put your creative side to good green use.

How to avoid non-recyclable giftwrap challenges

First check to see if your local recycling program accepts giftwrap, then much of the wrapping paper you already use may be recyclable. Wrapping paper isn't accepted by many local paper recycling programs due to its low grade and high processing costs. However, some local recyclers offer special end-of-the-year recycling programs after the holidays that include wrapping paper. Just be sure that the paper doesn't contain excessive clay or metallic additives, bows, ribbons or tape as these substances can often contaminate the paper recycling stream.

If your recycler doesn't accept regular giftwrap, choose to bundle up your gifts in something that is recyclable and add your own artistic touch by using markers or paint to dress up a box or bag. Here are some crafty, reuse ideas:

  • Old newspapers and magazines: These make great wrapping paper. Choose the sections of the paper or magazine that cater to the recipients tastes, then tie a colorful bow around it.
  • Sheet music: Wow your favorite music buff with this thoughtful gift wrapping option.
  • Last years calendar: Make it extra special by choosing the month the birthday-person was born.
  • Old maps: History buffs will love old maps that detail how things once were...
  • Brown paper shopping bags: Nothing says simple and eco-friendly like a brown bag tied with twine.
  • Butcher paper: Also known as kraft paper and available in recycled brown, white, or colored varieties at many craft stores, this paper can be easily decorated or left plain and tied up with string for a stylish alternative to traditional gift packaging.

Find it! Recyclable wrapping options

Even green giftwrap requires additional time, expense, and strain on the environment (think transportation pollution and packaging materials). If your heart's set on adorning packages with wrapping paper—and old newsprint doesn't quite cut it in the elegance department—why not lighten your carbon footprint with some more visually pleasing recyclable paper options?

Using recyclable wrapping options helps you go green because…

  • It preserves virgin timber resources along with the energy used to harvest them.
  • It removes wrapping paper from the solid waste stream, saving landfill space.
  • Purchasing products that contain post-consumer waste encourages further recycling efforts.

Wrapping paper and shopping bags account for about 4 million tons of trash each year in the US.[1] The 25 percent increase in waste generated during the holiday season (including giftwrap, much of which is non-recyclable) sends an additional 1 million tons of refuse to America's landfills each week between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.[2][3]

Using recyclable giftwrap options, including making your own from recycled paper, helps curb the flow of paper waste year-round and cuts down on the negative eco-impacts of paper production, which is responsible for about a fifth of the total wood harvest worldwide, and about 93 percent of today's paper comes from virgin trees.[4] In addition to tree loss, the virgin timber-based pulp and paper industry is the third greatest industrial emitter of global warming pollution, with carbon dioxide emissions projected to double by 2020.[5]

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Comments

09/02/2008
4:13pm
greengoddess

I have a huge stack of ribbons at home -- i have not bought wrapping paper in years! i use whatever paper i can find (tissue paper from a clothing purchase, newspaper etc)and just tie a big colorful bow around the "plain" paper. No one's ever complained ;)

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